Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Ocean Breezes

Ocean Breezes Knitted Scarves Inspired by the Sea by Sheryl Thies remains ones of my favorite books. I have knit 4 scarves to completion, and still love looking through it and matching up my yarn to other pattern. One of the nice things about the books is many of the yarns are easily available. All patterns include the yardage and fiber of yarns used, making substitution easier.  This is a book of scarves, so most have straight forward construction. Any constructions that are new to you will be much simpler to learn in a smaller project like these scarves.  These aren't all beginner projects, but some are. They will provide inspiration to more experienced knitters as well. I still want to knit Turtle Tracks. My Scalloped Shells was a case of wrong fiber for the pattern. Maybe someday I will get to reknit it.

With a very brief introduction and a few hints to substituting yarns, this book is mostly about the patterns. You will need to be able to knit lace, cables, and graft. Or have another resource for learning the skills you need. A couple of the patterns are just knit and purl, they can give you the confidence to knit more of these scarves.  One thing that can make these patterns more challenging is the lack of charts for the stitch patterns.

Available on Amazon in softcover, and Martingale as a pdf download. I am an Amazon affliate, and your purchase through this link helps support this blog. Errata are available at the Martingale website for the Mermaid's Mesh scarf, my copy already had the correction.

Check out my library on Ravelry. Suggest a review, give your review, or purchase one of the many books available for destash.

Tomorrow I get to visit the sixth annual Lexington Sheep and Fiber Festival. If it is anywhere near as exciting as last year, I will have lots to share with you. Look for pictures of sheep, yarn, fleece and fiber.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chloe's Heart Release, Lacey review

Tracey Schuh Owner of Interlacements yarn sent me a new yarn. It is Lacey, a two-ply super fine merino, with 930 yards to the skein. What can you knit with this yardage? A sleeveless top in a variety of sizes, or a wide variety of shawls among other thing. 

Two- ply yarn shows off lace wonderfully, and Chloe's Heart was designed with this in mind. Is a cables and lace pattern from Annie Malone, that will challenge you every row. One tester commented: "A fairly involved lace scarf. This is not an easy pattern nor is it intuitive. It is challenging and the result may well be worth the work." Most right side rows are a combination of lace, cables, twisted stitches, knits and purls. The wrong side rows are knits and purls, and purls through the back loop. 

The stitch pattern is charted and written for the scarf version. The wider stole is charted only. There is also a separate download for a 2 page chart in a larger format.
This yarn was nice to work with, and got just a bit softer after blocking. It is holding the block nicely, as you can see by the points. Stitch definition was good for the lace and knit and purl sections. The larger cables showed up well enough for this pattern, but at this gauge an allover cable pattern would be flat and not highly visible. The 2 ply construction and occasional slubs combine to make this knit looking rather rustic. 

Have you used Lacey by Interlacements? What yarn would you use for Chloe's Heart?  

Don't forget Chloe's Heart and my other patterns are on sale for 25% off until May 13, 2015.;">
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Friday, May 1, 2015

Meet 100Creations by Rachel

After thinking about what to post today, I realized what I really wanted to do was introduce myself. My name is Rachel, though you will find me as 100Creations on most social media. That username is frequently available. When I first started online I worked on so many different crafts I wanted a name that reflected that. I wasn't a knitter yet, hadn't discovered crochet either. I had learned how to bead, and wire metal work. Cross-stitch, embroidery, sewing, and many other crafts came first. I married in 2004, and discovered crochet that same year. My mom had saved the stitch by stitch magazines she had received, and passed them on to me. They have many crafts included, but start from the very basics and progress through making your own patterns and advanced items. I made granny squares with scraps of yarn I had (probably from plastic canvas).  Then for some reason didn't crochet for awhile. Later I picked it up again, making more granny squares. Either I picked the wrong hook, or my gauge really changed. The new squares matched the old in number of rounds, but five of the old blocks matched four of the new. After figuring this out, I was able to join all the blocks to make a afghan I still have. It is a classic granny square blanket with scrap center rounds, then a final black round bordering all the blocks.

I can't remember exactly my next project, but for little while I started crocheting anything I could. I still had no real knowledge of gauge, just that it was really important to match the pattern. I also had no idea what weight of yarn meant. I figured if you could crochet the yarn tight enough to make gauge that was the goal. Thus the sweater that could have stood on its own (no pictures available). Some projects weren't complete failures. I crocheted another afghan using this pattern, with blue strips for the hearts and white for the diamonds. I did the math for a skirt and finished most of it. That pattern still needs to be finished, but the idea was sound. So I really started improvising quickly. Ravelry wasn't around then, or who knows what would have happened. Thus began my yarn and pattern obsession (there really is no other word for it).

My pattern obsession lead me down another road. So many pattern books would have crochet patterns, but were mostly knit patterns. Or even mostly crochet patterns, but I really liked the knit patterns they included. My Grandma had tried to teach me how to knit. After I begged and begged! But I had lost interest after deciding it was to hard. That may have been because I had in my head that the only proper way to knit was to pull the stitch through, then pull the yarn (so it couldn't go anywhere, I guess), making the it very difficult to move the yarn across the needle. Then to try to draw the yarn through that stitch to make another was hard work. My first project was a scarf. My practical Grandma made sure it would match my coat, so it was in stripes of white and tan. I quickly decided that wasn't difficult enough or something. I wanted to make a vest. Not sure why Grandma let me start one project when I hadn't even finished the first. I choose white for the background, and four? other colors for striped bands. Stripes again! I was positive knitting just one color would be to boring. I knit away on that, checking the length frequently. Not by measuring tape, but by holding it up until I decided it was time to start the neck. Again, grandma must not have been immediately available because I didn't form the neck by decreasing. I had learned to cast off and decided that was the proper way to 'get rid' of stitches. This would have worked, had I ever finished the knitting. I never even finished the half front I started on.

So having decided I couldn't knit, crochet became my main yarn craft. But so many people knit, surely it wasn't that hard! Thus learning knitting came back into my life. That is a journey for another day.

How did you learn to knit/crochet? Do you do any other crafts?

This was one of my first crochet projects: (so glad I already had a digital camera, even if it and I weren't very good at taking pictures). Note 'quality control' daisy checking it out.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review: Herrchners Blue-Ribbon Afghans

I had to keep this book just for the cover:
The Afghan on the cover is based on the granny square, but turns it into a center star. A blend of nine-patch blocks and all around granny borders would make this a crochet project that would keep your interest. and leave you with plenty of ends to weave in. This project on ravelry is one of my favorite FO's from this pattern, she chose my favorite colors. 

Many people report errata in the 1998 printing of the book. This site has corrections for the blue star afghan on the cover, if you decide to crochet it. You can also contact Herrschners for corrections. 

There are 48 patterns in the book, most are crochet. Twelve patterns use afghan stitch, so if you are a fan you have to check out those patterns.  The Memory Star blanket is a great way to learn the half granny square. This is a Granny square that one half (diagonally) is one color, the rest another color. Many quilt patterns could be crocheted using these half and full granny squares. I've always wanted to make a afghan this way. Maybe some day...

Of the five knit patterns my favorite is the fan stitch. This would make a great stash buster, take the strips with you then join them later. 

All in all this book will be staying in my library for now. If you would like a copy Amazon is selling them. That is my affiliate link. You don't pay more, but I get a small amount to help continue crafting. 

What pattern did you like most from the book? Here is another fabulous FO from ravelry:

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Friday, April 17, 2015

The reason for test kniting

Have you heard of test knitting? It is where a pattern designer (knit or crochet) sends her pattern to other people so they can knit it. Why would she give the pattern away? The information from the test knit can help her make the pattern clear and understandable. It also provides feedback on how well other yarns do or don't work for this pattern, and even what needle size to suggest.

Each designer is different, as are their reasons for testing. One example I know of an item that needed to be tested comes from my mom. It was a pattern for a quilt she found in a magazine. It gave a template for the pieces, and told you how to sew them together. Sounds simple right? My mom has made her own templates and sewn quilts from just pictures, this should have been a breeze. Except the pieces didn't fit together. The sides that were sown together were different sizes. This would have been easy to spot if someone had just sent the pattern to another quilter and asked them to make just one block.

Not every test is going to show up such glaring flaws in a pattern, but even the little things like treating a double Yo as one stitch or two on the next row can help make a pattern clear and fun to knit. It gives you a real knitter point of view. This is very important if you are just starting out designing. Even if you are a designer with hundreds of patterns, having someone else read and knit the pattern is the best way to ensure other people will be able to knit a project they love.

So why should you test knit? It is fun! Kristen Rettig wrote a blog post on why she test knits, and what she loves about it. Andi recently blogged about her experience test knitting, and gives tips if you want to become a test knitter.

My favorite part about test knitting is working directly with the designer to make the pattern as user friendly as possible. I have quite a bit of knitting experience, but the way things are worded can make them more complicated then they need to be. Or you can have that tricky knitting that a explanation or photo tells you you can do it! Every time I test knit I learn something new. How to make closed loop cables, how to strand knit, how to avoid an awkward start to a granny square round. Or just a new wording that makes you see how you can improve your knitting.

Obviously you can learn all this by knitting a variety of projects from a variety of designers on your own. But having the structure of a deadline, and analyzing a pattern to give feed back means you will see things you might have missed otherwise.

This is #9 square from A Celtic Quilt #2, currently in testing. My project page will also be linked to the pattern when it is released. The celtic quilt link above takes you to the designers project page, Impeccable Knits adds new blocks as they are getting tested. You can also find Celtic Quilt #1.

Watch for a future post on how to be a good tester. Tips on what feedback they need, and how to have an enjoyable test knit.

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